A High Court judge has ruled that fracking should not take place at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool until a hearing next week.
Mrs Justice Farbey signed an interim injunction order for the Preston New Road site to last until the case comes to court, likely to be in London on Wednesday 10 October.
The order said:
“Cuadrilla Bowland Ltd must desist from carrying out any hydraulic fracturing operations at the Preston New Road site (including oil/gas wells designated PNR-1z or PNR2) until the hearing has taken place.”
Yesterday, Lytham anti-fracking campaigner Bob Dennett applied to the court for an emergency injunction and judicial review of emergency planning procedures at the site (DrillOrDrop report). He said he feared the authorities had failed to protect local people from emergencies at the site.
Speaking outside Preston New Road this morning, Mr Dennett, told DrillOrDrop:
“This is absolutely fantastic news. I am ecstatic.
“As a result of our action yesterday, Cuadrilla put out a press release this morning and they have invited television news on to their site to keep journalists away from us.”
Cuadrilla said yesterday it was aware of the injunction application and described it as a “last ditch attempt at delaying our efforts to find a new source of much-needed natural gas for the UK which is a national imperative.”
But Mr Dennett said today:
“They have accused us of a cynical attempt to prevent them from fracking. But they are the ones that are cynical by doing this today.”
This morning, Cuadrilla announced that fracking on the first horizontal well at the site would begin in a week. DrillOrDrop report
The company is taking some journalists on tours of the site today.
A statement by Cuadrilla this afternoon said:
“We understand the hearing about whether an interim injunction should be granted has been set for the middle of next week and we should not start hydraulic fracturing operations before then, which we were not planning to do in any event.”
Mr Dennett’s case has been brought against Lancashire County Council, the co-ordinator of the local resilience forum (LRF), which is responsible for emergency planning.
He is seeking a judicial review of what he says is the failure of the county council “properly to manage and regulate the environmental and health and safety risks to the local community arising from the shale gas fracking operations by Cuadrilla at the Preston New Road shale gas fracking site”.
Mr Dennett said there appeared to “no specific and robust plans for the evacuation of local residents, in particular children attending the 15 schools in the vicinity of the site.”
He said today:
“If I had all the emergency procedure documents in place I would have released them all months ago to the community to prove I had its best interests at heart.
“Lancashire County Council has refused to do this. This raises questions over whether they have the right processes in place.”
The court order gives Cuadrilla, the county council and other regulators the opportunity to vary or discharge the order at 24 hours’ notice. Evidence to be put before the court must be submitted by Monday afternoon.
Liz Hutchins, director of campaigns at Friends of the Earth, said:
“The environmental risks of fracking are well-documented and issues regarding safety at the Preston New Road site have been raised before.
“It’s right that local people continue to highlight these concerns, through the courts if necessary.
“Fracking has already been stopped in Scotland, Wales, & Northern Ireland because of the risks. Fracking is bad news for our climate, environment and local people: when is the government going to wake-up and realise it’s backed the wrong horse?”